What is a Hunger Strike?[edit | edit source]
A hunger strike is a dangerous protest tactic in which a person simply refuses to eat in an effort to gain attention for their cause or issue. Hunger strikes can result in death, therefore, hunger strikes should be a last resort for very dire situations.
M.K Gandhi was successfully practiced hunger strike against then British imperialism. It was called as "Satyagraha"
Some Guidelines for Hunger Strikes[edit | edit source]
- Find or make a comfortable spot to conduct your hunger strike and remain there-- it is crucial that you conserve as much energy as you can during a hunger strike. Therefore, you should make a comfortable spot to rest and avoid any physical activity beyond standing temporally and walking short distances.
- Keep warm in the cold and keep cool in the heat-- by engaging in a hunger strike you will be subjecting your body to incredible abuse and severely weakening your body's natural ability to protect itself against the elements. Because of this it is extremely important that you have the proper clothing and protection appropriate to the weather situation in your area. You will be much more susceptible to hypothermia or heat stroke, take care.
- People with medical conditions should check with a medical professional, herbalist, or other caregiver, before going on a hunger strike to learn about risks, signs/symptoms to watch for, and limitations.
2-7 day hunger strike[edit | edit source]
Preparing for the strike[edit | edit source]
Preparations start within half the amount of days of the fasting period at minimum (i.e., 3½ days prior to a 7 day fast). For strikes lasting longer than 4 days, a week’s prep time is ideal. Preparations are a matter of building mental fortitude and gradual elimination of food from the diet.
- Start by eliminating sugar, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and any recreational drugs.
- Anyone on prescription medications should consult with their care provider and take their advice seriously.
- Vitamin supplements can be maintained up to within two days of the strike and herbal supplements should be tapered off over 3-7 days prior depending on frequency, strength and activity of the herbs. Tincture forms can graduate to tea forms.
Next, cut back on complicated foods, such as lasagna, in favor simpler foods, such as brown rice, with fewer ingredients. Start opting for smaller portions as well. Foods may be eaten more frequently, one at a time (just carrots, then just nuts, then just juice, etc.), and in smaller amounts. This is not to say start going hungry just move from big production meals to simple snacks throughout the day. Cut out fried foods.
Continue in this vein until beginning the strike. Listen to the body, not the mind regarding how much food is desired. The diet should become increasingly simple and sparse. Eat small amounts before you get hungry to avoid making choices you would rather not.
- Red meats and other animal foods, including milk products and eggs, should be eliminated the last day or two.
- Those who can precede fasting with 3-4 days of just fruits and vegetables will have the easiest time of it.
Over the entire preparation time, increase liquid intake. This can be fresh vegetable and fruit juices (Hawaiian punch is not a fruit juice - no sugar remember), soups, teas (herbal) and WATER. Water intake should increase toward 3-4 quarts a day. Add electrolytes to water to maintain vital functions, if you are relying on city water rather than good well water. A simple recipe for electrolytes is:
- 2 quarts water
- 2 Tablespoons sugar/honey/maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt substitute (sometimes labeled as lite salt in the diet section of a grocery store)
While fasting/striking:[edit | edit source]
Stay warm and hydrated. 3-4 quarts of water a day, including the electrolytes is best. The recipe above can be used, but teas that are high in minerals can help the person stay hydrated and maintain balance in the kidneys. Up to 3 cups of tea can be consumed each day and can be diluted in water. Tea that isn't consumed right away should be refrigerated.
High Mineral Infusion Suggestions: stinging nettle leaves, oat straw, red raspberry leaves, plantain leaves, yarrow leaves and flowers, lemon balm leaves, mint leaves, dandelion leaves. To prepare pour 1 quart boiling water over 1 oz. tea and cover for 4 hours or longer.
High Mineral Decoction Suggestions: yellow dock root, burdock root, dandelion root, white oak bark. To prepare boil 1.5 quarts water with 1 oz. tea, then simmer for 20 minutes.
Warning: These herbs could potentially cause harm: milky oat tops - if not dosed properly (this varies per person so best to avoid if you aren't familiar with it and horsetail if not prepared properly (must be boiled 10 minutes).
Master Cleanser Lemonade:
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 8 ounce spring water
This can be made by the gallon and added to water and juice options throughout the day. The goal is generally 8-12 glasses a day alternated with water and juices. I have also added liquid chlorophyll to this recipe for stamina and nourishment. Hirohito
Breaking the Strike:[edit | edit source]
- Start with warm miso broth. Just miso, not all the other soup ingredients. Chrysanthemum and cane syrup tea or nettles and oatstraw tea are excellent to recover from a fast.
- Wait ½ hour and begin introducing small amounts of room temperature fruit slowly and chewed very well. It is a good idea to choose just one kind of fruit at a time, nothing that is highly acidic (citrus) and melons are best. Cantaloupes and honeydew are juicy and the best food for a digestive system that has been at rest.
- Eat until your body is satisfied, but not to the point of feeling "full".
- Rest. Check in and take the time to listen to your body as opposed to your head. Your head may be telling you to eat like you haven't eaten for a week and you may never see food again, but your body will be grateful for morsels and asking for time to process these little bits before taking in more. Eat small amounts, keep it simple, chew it well then rest. Eat a little, chew, rest. Eat a little, chew, rest. Usually at about ½ hour intervals. You may get quite tired after eating as your body is re-adjusting.
- A couple of hours after the melon, a small salad composed of ONLY greens. Iceberg lettuce does not count. Organics are best. Again, eat slowly, chew well and rest. This may be it for the first day. Be careful not to overwhelm your system. Go somewhere and go to sleep.
- Next day start out with fruit in the a.m. (bananas are good here) and maybe a little grape or apple juice diluted. Still easy does it. Eat slow, chew well and rest.
- Salad next as above, but can add a few other veggies just not too many. Next move on to small amounts of plain whole grains. Brown rice or millet would be great. Eat slow, chew well and rest.
- After a few hours (around 3 hours) again a salad or fruit. Stick to this basic pattern for up to half as many days as you were fasting. Add good, simple foods gradually and in tune with what feels good sitting in your stomach.
- Drink slowly in between eating. Give yourself about 20-30 minutes between ingesting fluids and foods.
Hunger strike exceeding 7 days[edit | edit source]
Basically same as above, with emphasis on SMALLER AMOUNTS introduced more SLOWLY. If this is your first time through something like this, share these guidelines with a friend and have them help you or stick with someone who has experience fasting for longer periods of time. More than a seven day fast is not dangerous for most of us in good health, but is also no small matter.
Rest is very important! Respect yourself, rejuvenate and stay strong.
Water strike[edit | edit source]
First, it is important to reintroduce plain, room temperature, pure water slowly. SIP about 2 ounces every ½ hour for the first 3-4 hours. REST! The revolution will go on without you for a while.
- Chrysanthemum or nettles and oatstraw tea as above and/or miso broth in 2 ounce increments can be taken after 2 hours.
- MELONS can be introduced after 3-4 hours and follow as above.
Health Effects of Hunger Strikes[edit | edit source]
Depending on the length of a hunger strike a person can do severe, in some cases irreparable, damage to their body. The following is a short list of the serious health risks involved in carrying a hunger strike beyond 2-3 weeks -- this info assumes that you are engaging in a water-only hunger strike and you are basically healthy when you begin your hunger strike, also some of these effects are not permanent:
- Damage to muscle tissue (after approximately 4 weeks)
- Weakening of bones (after approximately 4 weeks)
- Hallucinations / Dementia (after approximately 3 weeks)
- Potentially permanent brain damage (after approximately 4 to 5 weeks)
- Potentially permanent damage to internal organs (after approximately 4 to 5 weeks)
- Potential failure of internal organs (after approximately 4 to 5 weeks)
- Death (could happen at any time depending on the state of your health)
Notes[edit | edit source]
- See Hunger strike (in prison)
- Excellent resource for fasting: Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Dr. Elson Haas.